Forest walk with views of Moel Siabod

A popular walk starting from the village of Betws-y-Coed, the trail to and around Llyn Elsi is gorgeous throughout and delivers plenty of variety. The only drawback is the absence of signage and waymarkers after you arrive at the lake. The paths and logging tracks have recently been updated and altered, making it easy to get confused, even if you have a walking guide with you. When I tackled this hike, I had intended to return to the village via a different path but I couldn’t find it! I was forced to retrace my steps after circling the lake but it was a great walk despite the issues with signage.

As the route begins in the village, there are plenty of places to park and to grab refreshments on your return. The trail is quite steep initially, but it’s worth tackling the hill to enjoy the wonderfully scenic Llyn Elsi.

Duration: 3 hours from the village to and around the lake and back to Betws-y-Coed.

Terrain: Woodland paths and forest roads

Llyn Elsi

From Betws-y-Coed

The walk begins behind St Mary’s Church in the heart of Betws-y-Coed. The church is located on the A5 which is the main road through the village. Betws-y-Coed isn’t a huge place and so you can park wherever you can find a place and make your way to the trail head. There is an information board at the beginning of the walk which isn’t terribly useful but it does at least let you know that you are in the right place.

The trail climbs relatively steeply through the forest on a wide track which is pretty easy underfoot. There are a couple of places where you will come across forks in the path but the route to the lake is clearly waymarked. You eventually arrive at a more open area flanked by dense vegetation which affords excellent views of Moel Siabod in the distance. Keep on the forest road until you see a small path ahead and slightly to your right which takes you to the lake shore.

After enjoying some time by the water, you can take a walk around Llyn Elsi. Step back up onto the forest road and turn right. Keep on the gravel road until you have passed the end of the lake and you can see a steep track heading straight on at a point where the forest road bends to the left. There isn’t a sign or waymarker here .

Monument at Llyn Elsi

The monument

Continue following the footpath through the woods and past the lake which is now beneath you and to the right. The path begins to diverge from the lake which disappears from view. Keep an eye out for another path on your right leading downwards which you will need to take. There is no sign here (quelle surprise!) But the top of the path is marked by a series of slates.  Follow this trail which takes you back to lake and continue around the water’s edge. There several nice spots to sit and admire the scenery or enjoy a picnic as you circle the water.

The narrow path eventually takes you to the dam at the northern end of the lake where there are steps leading up to a continuation of the trail. Walk up the steps and parallel to the dam. You will arrive at a stone monument which commemorates the building of the dam. There are wonderful views across the lake from the monument which is located on a small hill above Llyn Elsi.

Now things get a little confusing!

Where next?

Footpaths lead away from the Monument in four different directions. Sadly, none of the paths are signposted and so on the occasion of my first visit to Llyn Elsi, I was unable to deduce which, if any, was the route to the Miners Bridge just outside Betws-y-Coed. I had intended to return to the village via the bridge and the path along the river but eventually decided to retrace my steps as it was getting a little late in the day. I met several visitors on my walk around the lake and most were in a state of confusion!

To return to your starting point, take the path which leads down towards the lake from the monument. This eventually intersects with the forest road that led you up from the village to Llyn Elsi. Turn left and retrace your steps across the countryside and through the forest. Before leaving the lake shore, don’t forget to take in the views across the water to Moel Siabod.

Llyn Elsi is a serene lake which attracts diverse wildlife. This popular walk attracts more people than you will find on many of the trails in the region, but there are rarely enough walkers to ruin the peaceful ambience.

Llyn Elsi


From the Woollen Mill, take the A487 towards Caernarfon and turn right at the roundabout in Bontnwydd towards Llanberis. Drive to and through Llanberis on the A4086 then continue until you have passed the Pen-y-Pass parking area and reach a T Junction. Turn right towards Capel Curig, drive through the village and then turn left onto the A5 towards Betws-y-Coed. Park anywhere you can find a space but the start point of the walk is behindSt. Mary’s Church which will be on your right opposite the park.